Don't be a digital hoarder, purge some apps

OMAR L GALLAGA
Last updated 05:00 31/05/2014

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If are someone who uses a smartphone or tablet a lot, you probably love apps. They are typically bite-size, cheap or free to download and much easier than navigating to a website in a browser.

But you might have noticed something a little disturbing as you scroll and scroll through multiple screens of little icons. You have too many apps.

Do you really need six different versions of Angry Birds at the ready? Five different apps to edit the same photos? The official scheduling app from a conference we attended three years ago?

There have been a few studies of how many apps people keep on their mobile devices and they all point to a growing number of apps on our devices every year. One analyst estimated last year that the average iOS (iPad, iPhone) device has 83 apps on it. The average Android-based device has 53.

How many do we really use with any regularity? Eight? Ten, maybe? It's time for a purge. Time to tidy things up and delete the excess.

You could go on living with a bunch of screens of loose icons (and some people want everything they own instantly accessible forever), but there are several reasons to organise your inventory:

Fewer apps means you'll spend less time thumbing for the ones you're looking for. Yes, you could type in a search term to find them, but being able to spot them at a glance is easier and faster.

Many mobile devices can't expand the amount of digital storage they contain. Fill up a device with too many apps, videos, songs and photos and you'll run out of space.

Removing an app from a mobile device (and in most cases, from a computer), doesn't mean you lose it forever. You can always download it again later. Even if the app costs money, re-installing the app is nearly always free.

Don't be a digital hoarder. Let's get started.

The first step is to figure out what you have installed. You could use computer software attached to your device to do this, or do it on the device itself.

If you don't already use folders to organise your apps, now would be a good time to start. (Don't know how? Google "how to create iPhone folders" or "how to create Android folders" based on what you use.) Put all like apps together in categories such as "music" or "games" or "photos" or "social media." Some apps may defy categorisation. That's fine, leave them be, they are special and will be dealt with later.

Now you've got the apps organised, take a look in those folders. If you have multiple apps that do the same thing, consider consolidating. Got a social network app you rarely use anymore? Ditch it. Want to be more productive? Kill some of those games that waste all your free time.

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Having a hard time determining which apps to delete? If you haven't used an app in more than a month, you probably don't need it.

Take a look at your phone's settings, likely under "usage," to see how much device memory each of your apps is taking. You may be surprised by which apps are hogging the most space. Apps that allow you to download files, such as songs or documents, for offline viewing can sometimes bloat up over time.

Still have loose apps that aren't in folders? That's OK, but if you download more apps in the future that are similar, think about pairing them up in new folders.

By this point, you should have a more manageable number of apps. Now it's time to take a look at where your apps should be placed to make them easiest to access.

If your device has a dock or a place to pin apps on the home screen, put the apps you use most (probably email, contacts, maybe a maps app or your calendar) in these spots.

Then put your folders in order of either importance or where your hand tends to search for the most important apps. Do you find yourself always seeking out email on the bottom right corner of your home screen? Stick the app icon there. Are you left-handed? Think about putting your most-used apps on that side of the screen.

Unfortunately, there isn't a way to sell or donate apps you are no longer using. They'll still be dormant in the cloud until you're ready to use them again. But getting them off your digital devices and making those screens easier to navigate will save you a little bit of time and cause fewer app-searching headaches.

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